KAPAA — North Shore residents voiced their opposition to a construction project during a hearing at the Kapaa Public Library Wednesday night. Some were also angry that the public hearing was in Kapaa instead of Hanalei.
The proposed 4,300-square-foot, five-bedroom, single-family home would be constructed on property across the street from the Princeville fire station on 14 acres of state conservation land.
Because it’s on conservation land, the project has been scaled down for wildlife and to minimize its environmental footprint.
About 100 people attended the hearing held by the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources.
A Kilauea woman said the fact that the public hearing was in Kapaa instead of Hanalei was absurd because the people who the project would have the most impact on were not able to come.
“Jessica brought up the point to be asked as an indigenous woman from this land whose ancestors are from this land, to be asked to explain why the land is important to a group of really wealthy haole people is in and of itself so condescending and disrespectful, it’s absurd that that’s part of this project,” she said.
She was also upset the landowner wasn’t at the meeting.
“He has sent people to speak for him. Everyone here who is speaking against it will be directly affected by this. Their children will be affected and for them to have to explain why their keiki will suffer if a 4,300-square-foot house is put up on an eroding ridge that will collapse and take with it the history that’s inside of it,” she said.
Realtor Debra Blachowiak offered another viewpoint.
“I probably won’t get applause after mine,” she said. “I’m here to speak in favor of the project.”
Being familiar with the property, she said the house was going to be built on part of the property that isn’t near the ridge.
“The engineer could describe to you how the property is laid out. It’s flat on top and then there’s the ridge that everyone’s referring to, around on the edge of it,” she said. “The house is set back. No one wants to put their house on a place where it’s precarious and it’s going to create a landslide or fall off. You can’t even get insurance for something like that.”
Because of zoning, she told the crowd, it is permissible to build a house on that property.
Evelyn Basnillo, Realtor and owner of Discover Kauai Properties, said she believes the owner of the property is responsible, respects the aina and has rights to enjoy his land.
“I trust that the owner adheres to the rules and regulations set forth in county zoning ordinances, respects the cultural sensitivity and (is a) productive citizen of the island,” she said.
As a religious practitioner for that location the house is supposed to be built on, Ka‘imi Hermosura said he is totally against the project because it is a sacred site.
“We have been tending it and protecting it for many years,” he said. “Our families also have been involved. All of us in this community we have done many work sacrificing our lives for this. This is serious. No we don’t want this project.”
The location the house is to be built on holds a lot of history for the Kanaka Maoli, Hermosura said.
“There’s some really heavy stuff involving that place including removing stones and bones,” he said.
The 90-minute meeting was a step in a lengthy process to get the project approved.